The yellow sand dunes stretch to infinity, whilst the scorching sun
of the Sahel beats down on your head. You’re tired and you’re thirsty –
you’ve been travelling for miles, searching for water. Yet nonetheless
you are cautious: nothing is as it seems in this land of smokescreens
and mirrors. “Water! Water!” you begin to scream. No… even imagination
is playing tricks on you. But what if in the distance, past the
undulating sand dunes, lay the waters of sand-locked lagoons and
waterfalls surrounded by palm trees?
It is this vision of utopia, surrounded by barren wasteland that
inspired us to catalogue some of the most incredible desert oases
before they are devoured by the desert sands and become mirages
1. Ubari Lakes are part of Erg Awbari Oasis in the Sahara. Located
near Fezzan and 30kms north of Germa in Libya, these salt water lakes
are a central trading point for many locals, who gather at the edges of
the lake selling souvenirs and other goods.
Umm Al-Maa, meaning Mother of Water, is one of the largest lakes in
the oasis but unfortunately, like all the lakes, the water table in the
area is so low that the lakes are drying up.
As well as the waters being extremely dirty, the saline levels are
now similar to the Dead Sea (which is great news if you like floating
in crud). The abandoned city of Gebraoun is also relatively nearby with
its impressive ruins, the settlement is testament to the
life-sustaining qualities that the lakes once had.
10 Ninjas Steve
2. Huacachina is a small oasis town in the Ica region of southwest
Peru. This oasis, named ‘Oasis of Americas’, is a popular resort with
local families and tourists. A legend says the lagoon was created when
an inquisitive young hunter disturbed a beautiful princess bathing. She
fled, leaving the pool of water behind which became the lagoon.
3. Turpan, or Tulufan as it’s also known, is an oasis city in the
Xinjiang Uygur Region in China. It is just 8km west of the ruined city
of Jiaohe, a border garrison town destroyed by Genghis Khan during the
4. We’re not entirely sure where this desert oasis is but we had to
include it because, surely, this is what most people perceive as the
typical oasis mirage? If anyone has been there, shoot us the location.
5. This wonderful desert lake is set within Lençóis Maranhenses
National Park, Maranhao, Brasil. It forms part of a system of fresh
water lagoons which fill up with rainwater during the first six months
of the year and then gradually evaporate over time to be topped up
again the following year. Some of the lakes within the park are dotted
with palm trees. This lonely lake, however, has one solitary dry branch
decorating its banks.
Ric e Ette
6. Crescent Lake in China’s Gobi Desert sits on the edge of an
ancient city that once saw traders embark on their journey along the
Silk Road to the West. Today it is drying up and has dropped more than
25 feet in the last 30 years, in part due to water being redirected for
local farmers and a doubling of population, resulting in the slow
disappearance of a lake that has existed for thousands of years.
7. The beautiful oasis of Chebika in Tunisia is probably one that
most people know about without realizing it. It is where Star Wars
Episode IV: A New Hope was filmed. The story goes that the oasis was
actually named after one of the characters, Chewbacca.
8. This stunning image shows three men quenching their thirst at a
small waterfall in the Saharan oasis of Timia, in Niger. It’s a picture
perfect portrait of everyday oasis life for local desert dwellers.
9. There are always small enclaves or villages dispersed near bodies
of water, no matter how small, and this image shows why. Even in desert
areas wholes farms can exist with the life giving powers of water.
10. This remote desert lake, fringed by sand dunes is located in
Khar Nuur, Mongolia. It’s a refreshing swimming spot for travelers who
manage to venture into one of the world’s vast desert plains.
11. Nahal David is a quiet oasis found near Bethlehem, Israel’s
Palestinian West Bank. It’s certainly a far cry from the war-torn
images often associated with that part of the world.
12. This sprawling oasis is the village of Tinerhir, located at the
foothills of Morocco’s Atlas Mountains. Todra Gorge and oasis are about
14km away so travellers normally visit both oases on the one trip.
13. Ghardaia is the main town in M’zab oasis in northern Algeria.
Founded in the 11th century, the city was built around a cave which was
reputedly inhabited by the female saint Daïa, and is still revered by
M’zabite women today. The oasis offers some wonderful examples of
original Arabic medieval architecture and is now a protected UNESCO
World Heritage site.
14. This castle is part of an oasis on the western shore of the
Persian Gulf in Saudi Arabia, called Qatif. The city dates back to
3,500 BC and was for many years the main town and port in the western
Gulf, which meant it was a popular spot for invasion and take over by
ruling powers through the ages. This resulted in an eclectic mix of
architecture and the area now boasts some of the best archeological
sites in the kingdom.
15. This oasis is hidden in the depths of the Oman desert, where a
number of green oases dot the landscape. A few oases in the tiny
Sultanate, on the corner of the Arabian Peninsula, are hotspots for
botanical studies into agro-biodiversity where many of the ancient
oasis are in rapid decline; researchers want to figure out why.
16. Nakhl Fort sits overlooking a lush, green date-palm oasis in
Oman. These impressive forts were strategically placed across much of
the Oman desert, like many places, to protect villagers from invasion.
17. This beautiful unnamed oasis is situated in Niger. If you have
any further info, we’d love to hear about it in the comments section.
Considering the recent unrest in the country it’s amazing to find
places like this still.
18. The lush green carpet of shrubland and fields sit in stark
contrast to the barren hills in the background of this typical oasis
village. Any clues to where it is?